‘Greenwashing’ tobacco products through ecological and social/equity labelling: A potential threat to tobacco control
More details
Hide details
Department of Applied Social Sciences, Limerick Institute of Technology, Moylish, Limerick, Ireland
University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Hauora Tairawhiti, Gisborne, New Zealand
Frank Houghton   

Department of Applied Social Sciences, Limerick Institute of Technology, Moylish, Limerick, Ireland
Publish date: 2018-11-16
Submission date: 2018-09-28
Final revision date: 2018-10-30
Acceptance date: 2018-11-09
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2018;4(November):37
There has been significant growth in ecological/environmental labelling of products and services internationally in recent years. Such efforts have become an integral element of the marketing strategies used by many firms. Concerns have been raised, however, that for some companies, this is little more than ‘greenwashing’, i.e. a cynical attempt to boost sales without any meaningful underlying sensitivity or change, in practice. Given the extremely negative track record of the global tobacco industry (Big Tobacco), it is essential that health policy makers and anti-smoking campaigners closely monitor this industry’s attempts to exploit both growing environmental concerns among consumers and gaps in legislation. Although there is relatively strong legislation in some countries, to prohibit suggestions that cigarettes may be environment friendly, a further tightening of legislation is required.
World Health Organization. WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2013: Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitst.... Published 2013. Accessed May 31, 2018.
GBD 2015 Tobacco Collaborators., et al. Smoking prevalence and attributable disease burden in 195 countries and territories, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2017;13(389). doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30819-X.
World Health Organisation. Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008: The MPOWER package. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitst.... Published 2008. Accessed May 31, 2018.
Stephen SL, Theo V, Flaxman AD, Goodarz D, Kenji S, Healther AR, et al. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet. 2012;380(9859):2224–60. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61766-8.
Steinberg ML, Williams JM , ZiedonisDM. Financial implications of cigarette smoking among individuals with schizophrenia. Tobacco Control. 2004;13:206.
World Health Organization. Tobacco and its impact: an overview. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitst... Published 2017. Accessed May 31, 2018.
Lecours N, Almeida GEG, Abdallah JM, Novotny TE. Environmental health impacts of tobacco farming: a review of the literature. Tobacco Control. 2012;21:191-196. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050318.
Öberga M, Woodwardb A, Jaakkolac MS, Perugad A, Prüss-Ustüne A. Global estimate of the burden of disease from second-hand smoke. http://www.who.int/tobacco/pub.... Published 2010. Accessed May 31, 2018.
Acuff L, Fristoe K, Hamblen J, Smith M, Chen J. Third-Hand Smoke: Old Smoke, New Concerns. J Community Health. 2016;41(3):680-7. doi:10.1007/s10900-015-0114-1.
Mahabee-Gittens EM, Merianos AL, Matt GE. Preliminary evidence that high levels of nicotine on children's hands may contribute to overall tobacco smoke exposure. Tobacco Control. 2018;27(2):217-219. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053602.
Wallbank LA, MacKenzie R, Beggs PJ. Environmental impacts of tobacco product waste: International and Australian policy responses. Ambio. 2017;46(3): 361-370. doi:10.1007/s13280-016-0851-0.
Novotny TE, Aguinaga Bialous S, Burt L, Curtis C, Luiza da Costa V, Usman Iqtidar S, et al. The environmental and health impacts of tobacco agriculture, cigarette manufacture and consumption. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2015;93(12)877-880. doi:10.2471/BLT.15.152744.
Novotny TE, Kristen L, Smith E, Wang V, Barnes R. Cigarettes butts and the case for an environmental policy on hazardous cigarette waste. International Journal of Environmental Research in Public Health. 2009;6(5):1691-1705. doi:10.3390/ijerph6051691.
Novotny TE, Slaughter E. Tobacco Product Waste: An Environmental Approach to Reduce Tobacco Consumption. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2014;6(1):208-216. doi:10.1007/s40572-014-0016-x.
Novotny TE, Zhao F. Consumption and production waste: another externality of tobacco use. Tobacco Control. 1999;8(1):75-80. doi:10.1136/tc.8.1.75
Slaughter E, Gersberg RM, Wantanabe K, Rudolph J, Stransky C, Novotny TE. Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwater fish. Tobacco Control. 2011;20(Suppl 1):i25-29. doi:10.1136/tc.2010.040170
Zafeiridou M, Hopkinson NS, Voulvoulis N. Cigarette smoking: an assessment of tobacco’s global environmental footprint across its entire supply chain, and policy strategies to reduce it. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018.
World Health Organisation. Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitst... Published 2005. Accessed May 31, 2018.
Henriksen L. Comprehensive tobacco marketing restrictions: promotion, packaging, price and place. Tobacco Control. 2012;21(2):147-153. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050416.
European Union. Tobacco Products Directive. Directive 2014/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products and repealing Directive 2001/37/EC Text with EEA relevance. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/lega.... Published April 24, 2014. Accessed May 31, 2018.
Joosens L, Raw M. The Tobacco Control Scale 2016 in Europe. Brussels: Association of European Cancer Leagues; 2017.
Glantz SA, Slade J, Bero LA, Peter Hanauer, Barnes DE. The Cigarette Papers. 1st ed. London: University of California Press; 1998.
Grüning T, Gilmore AB, McKee M. Tobacco Industry Influence on Science and Scientists in Germany. American Journal of Public Health. 2006;96(1): 20-32. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.061507.
Kluger R. Ashes To Ashes. America’s Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris. New York: Vintage Books; 1996.
Michaels D. Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health. New York: Oxford University Press; 2008.
Proctor RN. Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition. Berkeley: University of California Press; 2011.
Orestes N, Conway EM. Merchants of Doubt: How a handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. London: Bloomsbury Press; 2010.
Brandt AM. Inventing Conflicts of Interest: A History of Tobacco Industry Tactics. American Journal of Public Health. 2012;102(1):63-71. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300292.
Fallin A, Grana R, Glantz SA. ‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party. Tobacco Control. 2014;23: 322-331. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050815.
Francey N, Chapman S. “Operation Berkshire”: the international tobacco companies’ conspiracy. BMJ. 2000;321(7257):371-374. doi:10.1136/bmj.321.7257.371
Milberger S, Davis RM, Douglas CE, et al. Tobacco manufacturers’ defence against plaintiffs’ claims of cancer causation: throwing mud at the wall and hoping some of it will stick. Tobacco Control. 2006;15(iv):17-26.doi:10.1136/tc.2006.016956
Proctor RN. “Everyone knew but no one had proof”: tobacco industry use of medical history expertise in US courts, 1990–2002. Tobacco Control. 2006;15:iv117-iv125. doi:10.1136/tc.2004.009928
Proctor RN. The history of the discovery of the cigarette-lung cancer link: evidentiary traditions, corporal denial, global toll. Tobacco Control. 2012;21(2):87-91. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050338.
Gilmore AB, Fooks G, Drope J, Bialous SA, Rachel R. Jackson. Exposing and addressing tobacco industry conduct in low- income and middle-income countries. The Lancet. 2015; 385(9972):1029-1043. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60312-9.
Gilmore AB, McKee M. Moving East: how the transnational tobacco industry gained entry to the emerging markets of the former Soviet Union - part 1: establishing cigarette imports. Tobacco Control. 2004a;13(2):143-150. doi:10.1136/tc.2003.005108
Gilmore AB, McKee M. Moving East: how the transnational tobacco industry gained entry to the emerging markets of the former Soviet Union - part II: an overview of priorities and tactics used to establish a manufacturing presence. Tobacco Control. 2004b;13(2):151-160. doi:10.1136/tc.2003.005207
Kline N. No Logo. London: Picador; 1999.
Brécard D, Hlaimi B, Sterenn L, Perraudeau Y, Salladarré F. Determinants of demand for green products: An application to eco-label demand for fish in Europe. Ecological Economics. 2009;69:115-125. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.07.017.
Mario F, Teisl BR, Hicks RL. Can Eco-Labels Tune a Market? Evidence from Dolphin-Safe Labelling. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. 2002;43:339-359. doi:10.1006/jeem.2000.1186.
Randjelovic J, Anastasia R, O'Rourke R, Orsato J. The emergence of green venture capital. Business Strategy & the Environment. 2003;12(4):240-253. doi:10.1002/bse.361.
Hartlieb S, Jones B. Humanising Business through ethical labelling: Progress and Paradoxes in the UK. Journal of Business Ethics. 2009;88(3):583-600. doi:10.1007/s10551-009-0125-x.
Winge TM. “Green Is the New Black”: Celebrity Chic and the “Green” Commodity Fetish. Journal of fashion theory. 2008;12(4):511-523. doi:10.2752/175174108X346968.
Thomas S. From “Green Blur” to Ecofashion: Fashioning an Eco-lexicon. Journal of Fashion Theory. 2008; 12(4):525-539. doi:10.2752/175174108X346977.
Guillermo M. The Apparel Industry Partnership's Free Labor Association: A Solution to the Overseas Sweatshop Problem or the Emperor's New Clothes. Journal of International Law & Politics. 1999;32(1):1059-1175.
Hartlieb S, Jones B. Humanising Business Through Ethical Labelling: Progress and Paradoxes in the UK. Journal of Business Ethics. 2009;88:583-600. doi:10.1007/s10551-009-0125-x.
Murphy A, Jenner‐Leuthart B. "Fairly sold? Adding value with fair trade coffee in cafes", Journal of Consumer Marketing. 2011;28(7):508-515. doi: 10.1108/07363761111181491.
Oliver Balch. Child labour can't be carpeted over by a logo, but it's a step in the right direction. The Guardian Newspaper. https://www.theguardian.com/gl.... Published 15 August, 2013. Accessed June 7, 2018.
Tansy Hoskins. Child free fashion: a new label aims to end exploitation. The Guardian Newspaper. https://www.theguardian.com/su.... Published July 31, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2018.
ChowdhryG and Beeman M. Challenging Child Labor: Transnational Activism and India's Carpet Industry. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 2001;575(1):158-175. doi:10.1177/000271620157500110
Grant JA, Taylor I. Global governance and conflict diamonds: The Kimberley Process and the quest for clean gems. The Round Table. 2004;93(375):385-401. doi:10.1080/0035853042000249979.
Le Billon P. Fatal transactions: Conflict diamonds and the (anti) terrorist consumer. Antipode. 2006;38(4):778-801. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8330.2006.00476.x.
Santiago AP. Guaranteeing conflict free diamonds: From compliance to norm expansion under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. South African Journal of International Affairs. 2014;21(3):413-429. doi:10.1080/10220461.2014.972441.
Miele M. The taste of happiness: free-range chicken. Environment and Planning A. 2001;43:2076-2090. doi:10.1068/a43257.
Wycherley I. Greening supply chains: the case of The Body Shop International. Business Strategy and the Environment. 1999;8(2):120-127. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0836(199903/04)8:2<120::AID-BSE188>3.0.CO;2-X.
Broberg O. Labelling the Good: Alternative Visions and Organic Branding in Sweden in the Late Twentieth Century. Enterprise & Society. 2010;11(4):811-838. doi:10.1093/es/khq094
Huffman WE, McCluskey JJ . The Economies of Labelling GM Foods. The Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management & Economics. 2014;17(2):156-160. http://www.agbioforum.org. Accesed September 2018.
Harris SM. "Green Tick™: an example of sustainability certification of goods and services", Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal. 2007; 18(2):167-178. doi:10.1108/14777830710725830.
Sarkar AN. Green Branding and Eco-innovations for Evolving a Sustainable Green Marketing Strategy. Asia-Pacific Journal of Management Research and Innovation. 2012;8(1):39-58. doi: 10.1177/2319510X1200800106.
Truth Initiative (2018) Marketing. https://truthinitiative.org/to.... Accessed September 2018.
Skaczkowski G, Durkin S, Kashima Y, Wakefield M. "Influence of premium vs masked cigarette brand names on the experienced taste of a cigarette after tobacco plain packaging in Australia: an experimental study". BMC Public Health. 2018;18(1):295. doi:10.1186/s12889-018-5200-8
Friedman HH, Dipple WS. The effect of masculine and feminine brand names on the perceived taste of a cigarette. Decis Sci. 1978;9(3):467–471. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5915.1978.tb00735.x
Skaczkowski G, Durkin S, Kashima Y, Wakefield M. Influence of premium versus value brand names on the smoking experience in a plain packaging environment: an experimental study. BMJ Open 2017;7(1):e014099. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014099
GABI Software. (nd). Customer Detail: British American Tobacco. http://www.gabi-software.com/c.... Published N/A. Accessed June 7, 2018.
Chapman S. Advocacy in action: extreme corporate makeover interruptus: denormalising tobacco industry corporate schmoozing. Tobacco Control. 2004;13:445–447. doi: 10.1136/tc.2004.010025.
LC Friedman. Tobacco industry use of corporate social responsibility tactics as a sword and a shield on secondhand smoke issues. J Law Med Ethics. 2009;37(4):819-827. doi:10.1111/j.1748-720X.2009.00453.x.
Hirschhorn N. Corporate social responsibility and the tobacco industry: hope or hype? Tobacco Control. 2004;13:447–453. doi:10.1136/tc.2003.006676.
World Health Organization. Tobacco industry and corporate responsibility...an inherent contradiction. http://www.who.int/tobacco/med.... Published February, 2013. Accessed June 7, 2018.
Truth Initiative (2017) Agreement on American Spirit cigarettes fails to protect public from misleading claims. https://truthinitiative.org/ne.... Accessed September 2018.
Greenland SJ. Cigarette brand variant portfolio strategy and the use of colour in a darkening market. Tob Control. 2015;24(e1):e65-71. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051055.
Greenland SJ. The Australian experience following plain packaging: the impact on tobacco branding. Addiction. 2016; 111(12):2248-2258. doi:10.1111/add.13536.
Connolly GN, Alpert HR. Has the tobacco industry evaded the FDA's ban on 'Light' cigarette descriptors? Tobacco Control. 2014;23(2):140-5. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050746.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tobacco Product Marketing on the Internet. https://www.tobaccofreekids.or... Published Arpil 10, 2018. Accessed June 7, 2018.
Jackler RK, Li VY, Cardiff RAL, Ramamurthi D. Promotion of tobacco products on Facebook: policy versus practice. Tobacco Control. 2018. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2017-054175.
Freeman B, Chapman S. Open source marketing: Camel cigarette brand marketing in the "Web 2.0" world. Tobacco Control. 2009;18(3):212-7. doi:10.1136/tc.2008.027375.
Grant-Braham B, Britton J. Motor racing, tobacco company sponsorship, barcodes and alibi marketing. Tobacco Control. 2012;21(6):529-35. doi:10.1136/tc.2011.043448.
Shatenstein S. Canada: chicanery in the chicanes. Tobacco Control. 2004;13: 213-214. PMID: 15333867.
Purves RI, Critchlow N, Stead M. Foul Play? Alcohol Marketing During UEFA EURO 2016. http://www.ias.org.uk/uploads/.... Published April, 2017. Accessed June 7, 2018.
Maclean A, Bonington J . Legal and regulatory updates- Sports sponsorship in the UK: The impact of regulatory intervention. Journal of Sponsorship. 2008;1(4): 380–387.